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Brief Published: 5 Oct 2020

Four Pandemic-Proof Ways to Entice the Luxury Consumer


Purpose, privacy and time well-spent emerged as key priorities for global high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) at this year’s Future of Luxury eConference (September 23-24), with Covid-19 forcing decadence to retreat behind doors. Continuing our pulse-check on HNWI sentiments from Post-Lockdown Luxurians, we identified four key lessons emerging from the summit’s virtual talks. 

  • Offer Intangible Indulgence: “The definition of luxury during the pandemic has changed,” declared Amrita Banta, managing director of Singapore-based market research firm Agility Research & Strategy. “There’s now a [greater] appreciation of timeSpending leisure time with family, away from the business of everyday life, will be key.” 
  • Lighten the Carbon Footprint: The pandemic has prompted luxury labels to activate sustainability initiatives at an unprecedented level, according to Diana Verde Nieto, co-founder of UK brand consortium Positive Luxury – and those who fail to close the ‘say-do’ gap will increasingly be called out for cynical ‘purpose washing’. Action and statement must be one and the same.
    Take a leaf from global aviation company VistaJet’s launch of the Sustainability in Aviation programme in January, which offers its members certified carbon credits to compensate for their fuel-related emissions. To date, 80% of its members have opted into the scheme, offsetting 100,000 tonnes of CO2 (equivalent to charging 12.7 billion smartphones).
    Also see The Brief for more on how eco-attitudes are prevailing during the pandemic. 
  • Usher in Ultra-Privacy: Yachts, villas and private aircraft – services that offer both discreet indulgence and health security – have seen significant success as post-lockdown travel resumes. VistaJet, for example, saw 300% year-on-year growth in July, with a 70% increase in clients who had never flown private before. 
    The brand’s US president Leona Qi further detailed that for HNWIs, safeguarding health and privacy go hand in hand in 2020, calling these factors “the new luxury”. She explained that the likelihood of contracting an infection on a private jet is substantially lower, as there are just 20 touchpoints for potential transmission, compared to 700 in commercial airlines.
    See The Brief for more on catering to air passengers’ heightened hygiene concerns. 
  • Support Women’s Rise as Wealth Creators: The spending power of women aged 50-70 was highlighted by Alli McCartney, managing director of New York-based private wealth management group Alignment Partners. She told the summit that more than half (52%) of professional management positions are now held by women, while “women in heterosexual relationships outlive husbands by an average of five years, so they stand to inherit twice [from parents and then spouse].” Rising divorce rates under lockdown may also see more assets divided in two and coming under women’s control.